Nearly six months after exiting the Congress alleging "humiliation", the son of late Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy faces his first major political test on May 8 when the by-polls for Kadapa Lok Sabha which he vacated in November, 2010 will be held.
Pulivendula Assembly seat, which was represented by his mother Vijayalaxmi, is also going to by-polls on May 8. Both vacated their seats after they quit the Congress.
38-year-old Jagan, who had openly revolted against Sonia Gandhi, termed the by-polls a fight between the "self-respect of Andhra Pradesh" and "injustice of Delhi."
"This is a fight between credibility and opportunism (of Delhi). This is a fight between YSR district (Kadapa) and Delhi," Jagan told PTI.
Jagan, who launched YSR Congress recently, is giving a tough fight to ruling Congress candidate and Health Minister D L Ravindra, a bete noire of his late father, and TDP's M V Mysura Reddy in Kadapa. Jagan's mother is taking on late YSR's brother Y S Vivekananda Reddy in Pulivendula.
With both Jagan and Congress claiming to be the real heirs to YSR legacy, the electoral contest in Kadapa and Pulivendula promises to be a political potboiler.
He also criticised Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy for deploying almost the entire cabinet in Kadapa to "ensure his defeat" and made it clear that YSR Congress is here to stay to carry on the legacy of his late father.
"The question does not arise at all. When did I ever ask for positions? I cannot throw my core values into a dustbin as some do for the sake of power and position. What kind of a politician that would make me then?" Jagan asked.
He was replying to a question on whether he was ready for a rapprochement with the Congress in the future if Gandhi promised him a position in the party or in the Government.
Jagan said he and YSR Congress will make sure that all welfare measures implemented by the late Reddy and will work for "the maximum benefit of my people and my state once I am blessed with those numbers."
Jagan also sought to blame the Congress for forcing him out of the party, saying he was not allowed to carry out the ''Odarpu'' yatra by the high command.
"After all it was my duty as a son to keep my word on Odarpu. If I am not in a position to honour my own word what kind of a character mine would have been. Even if it meant political oblivion, I chose to take it," he said.
"I could not dump the core values being son of YSR.
Hence, I am seeking the mandate now," he said.
On the by-elections, Jagan said this is a fight to mark the beginning of change to come in Andhra Pradesh.
"You may attribute any reason to this but this is a fight between the self-respect of Andhra Pradesh and injustice of Delhi," he said.
On the entire state machinery being deployed in Kadapa, he said it "only reflects on their cheap tactics...Let me assure you, none of this is going to cut ice with the people here who worship YSR."
To a question on what is his plus-point in this election, Jagan refused to answer.
Asked won't there be any confusion among people in electing either his mother or uncle in Pulivendula, he said there was no confusion.
"It is painful that they have split the family. But the people are well aware of the game played by Delhi.
Pulivendula voters will be choosing between YSR legacy and Sonia Gandhi. That is all. But, let me admit to you, defeat of my uncle will be more painful to me than for anyone else," he said.